The ghost of Paul MacLeod had the last laugh following the auctioning of his estate in January, the notoriously sketchy house-slash-Elvis Presley-museum known as Graceland Too.
A scant crowd of around 100, mostly press but a few dozen fans of both The King and MacLeod, gathered outside the Holly Springs mansion earlier this year to witness the auction.
Their hopes for a button, picture, or some other keepsake were dashed when an online buyer scooped up the whole estate in one bid. The lot included Elvis busts and red velvet lamps, Elvis carved into the stock of a shotgun, an incomplete set of bowling pins bearing the thunderbolt TCB insignia, Elvis Christmas ornaments, an Elvis record collection, life-sized cardboard cutouts and more memorabilia than one could take in during a single visit.
But now it looks like the disciples of Graceland Too will get another chance as a mistake with the third-party conducting the online bid rendered the sale null and void.
“We spent five weeks trying to figure it out,” said Greg Kinard, auctioneer in charge of organizing the auction. “It was a huge mistake on the part of the online company. The online buyer thought they were bidding on the contents only, not the structure and land.”
MacLeod’s collection will hit the auction block once again on May 2.
Luckily, Kinard said, the lots had merely been stored inside the half-blue mansion. He and his workers spent three months toiling to organize the thousands of Elvis artifacts, and their work was not undone.
“This time, we’ll sell everything individually, no package deals,” Kinard said.
“It’s going to be a long day, but we hope to get more out of it, especially since the weather will be better and we got a lot of publicity.”
The only exception will be MacLeod’s record collection, which will be sold online before the auction.
“I guess they call it Graceland Too for a reason,” Kinard said. “I was skeptical when I took the job, and it’s been a journey.”
Graceland Too, once open 24/7, was frequented mostly by University of Mississippi students in the middle of the night. All it took was a knock on the door to bring MacLeod rumbling out to give his pelvis-thrusting tour of self-collected memorabilia for a mere five-spot. When a visitor had taken the tour three times, they earned the distinction of being a lifetime member – and they never had to pay again.
“He had these false teeth that would jiggle when he talked,” said lifetime member Lyle Morgan, who estimates he’s been there, well, more times than he can count. “Elvis is alright, but Paul MacLeod was way more fascinating.”
At the end of each tour, the visiting group would pose in the living room for a photo in front of a gold-framed poster of you-know-who. MacLeod would choose one of them to wear a leather jacket. He developed the pictures and kept them for himself. Kinard estimates MacLoed’s collection had grown to 50,000 or more, all taken from the same spot, with the same jacket. Even in the house’s disheveled state it looks like an altar in the church of the TCB (Taking Care of Business, Elvis’ band). Beside the famed poster sits a smaller picture of Jesus. “King of Kings,” it reads, but it’s hard to know which one MacLeod thought of as his savior.
“It’s a little unbelievable that someone spent this much time and effort on idolizing one person,” said Hunter Deschamp, an Ole Miss student from Gulfport. His mother heard about the auction, prompting him to take a road trip. “It’s a little creepy.”
Tupelo resident Russ Polsgrove drove over for the preview as well. He was one of several rifling through photos, trying to find a picture of his college self.
“I found a picture of my Aunt Joyce in that leather jacket, in front of that poster,” he said. “What was she doing here?”
Indeed, the lure of Graceland Too is a strange one, a fascination with a fascination, and to glimpse inside is to peek in on true obsession. In the foyer, the walls are covered with the same page of the same newspaper bearing the headline “Presley: He Excites Girls, Scares Critics.”
It’s not as if MacLeod wanted every picture ever made of Elvis. It’s as if he wanted a copy of every picture ever made of Elvis. In truth, the Elvis curtains hid nails that could snag your elbow or ear. The floor sagged when more than four people stood in the same room.
In a room adjacent to the living room sat a cupboard bulging with TV Guides from decades ago. Pages of each issue are marked with paperclips designating an Elvis-related program. Elvis blankets hung from walls. Photos of Lisa Marie in intimate poses with Michael Jackson, probably more than visitors wanted to see, were posted on a nearby wall.
“I never met him,” Kinard said. “But after going through his house for two months, I’d say, yeah, I know Paul MacLeod.”
Not much is known about MacLeod before he came to Holly Springs from Detroit in the 1980s. According to neighbor Mary Neely, MacLeod first opened Graceland Too’s doors sometime in the 1990s.
“He was a good neighbor for 17 years,” she said. “Never bothered anyone. No one had a problem with him.”
Some said otherwise, like Mike Lawshea. Lawshea is part of a crew that works on antebellum homes in the area. He had helped clean Graceland Too for the past few months but knew MacLeod for the past dozen years.
“He was a scary guy,” Lawshea said, with a mix of trepidation and fondness. “He was always packing heat. He was something else. He was Paul.”
At the first auction, visitors circulated through the rooms as whispers of rumors rose. MacLeod’s eccentricity zipped electric among them.
“He pulled a gun on a student once,” said Wendell Davis. “The kid thought he could steal a picture, like MacLeod didn’t know every inch of that place. He always had that pistol.”
The path upstairs had been blocked off, but the downstairs had been relieved of furniture, leaving not so much as a place to sit. If there had been a kitchen, or a dining room, it was unrecognizable now. Some passers-through speculated on where MacLeod slept, if he did at all.
“I don’t know where he got the money to live on,” Lawshea said. “He was always crying broke. But word has it he liked to hide money throughout the house.”
Whatever fictions they could guess at could hardly beat the truth.
On a hot July night last year, a fellow named Dwight David Taylor Jr., allegedly attempted to break into Graceland Too. McLeod put two fatal bullets in his chest, but after speaking with police, no charges were filed. Two days later, MacLeod died on the front porch, “in his white rocking chair,” to hear Davis tell it.
Every six months, Lawshea said, MacLeod would paint the two-story house a new color. Over the years, it had been pink and blue, and on its final day, it sat a mix of white and beige under the brushed steel January sky.
Lifetime member Lisa McGee clutched her pink leather purse with the Cadillac emblem on the side as she waited for the first auction to begin.
“I’d just like a lamp or something,” she said. “You know, just a souvenir to remember the place by and say I was there.”
The red Cadillac DeVille went without much hubbub, but a bidding battle ensued for the pink automobile. Kinard assured onlookers that although it hadn’t been driven in two years, a new battery and a full tank of gas were all that was needed to put it back on the road. The auctioneers revved the engine and honked the horn, edging the bidders against each other.
In the end, Holly Springs resident John Stuber came away with the cruiser for a smooth $4,000. He said it was a joint investment with his wife and friends.
Brenda Young, MacLeod’s daughter, shivered beside the platform. Estranged from her father until finally meeting him in 2010, Young announced that $5,000 of the auction’s proceeds would go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“Thank you all for making my dad feel so special,” she said. Just then, the scaffold gave way, nearly throwing Kinard off the back of it. After it was righted, he joked, “Had to be Paul.”
For more information on the upcoming auction for Graceland Too and its contents, visit Spur K Auction’s website.
Courtesy of Legends magazine, story By Riley Manning